All your favorite Cali Grill knowledge

Our next trip to the World will be during mine and DW’s 18th anniversary! The actual night of our anniversary, my plan is to leave the kids with the grands (also traveling with us) and to surprise DW with a dinner at California Grill.

This will be our first time doing any special nice meal just the two of us at WDW. We are definitely foodies, but dining at WDW for us has consisted of time with our kids, which has meant character or themed dining.

I totally want to do this dinner right!

Some info: Our ADR is at 7:45 on a night when HEA will hopefully be at 9pm. Also, we’re on the dining plan, and want to take full advantage of it.

What should we order?
Where should we try to sit?
Is 7:45 a good time?
What other tips, secrets or Liner-knowledge should we be aware of?

Thanks so much, ya’ll!

CG is a great choice! Sometimes gets panned on this site, but it’s worth it for my family everytime! I think the reason it doesn’t have an amazing reputation is that it’s expensive. IMO your paying for the view. Which is spectacular!

I would try and call ahead to explain that you’d like a special table for your special anniversary. I’m not sure this will work, as almost everyone is celebrating something. But if you leave it to chance you may end up being disappointed. Personally we’ve been lucky everytime with great seating. Honestly, even if you have to get up from your seat and watch the fireworks from the roof, it’s still spectacular!

Last time I was there the menu was slightly different than it is now. But we’ve always started with Sushi. It’s great! I’m a fussy Sushi eater. I had the Black Cod for an entree which was also excellent. My wife had the ravioli for her entree and really enjoyed it. The deserts were OK. Next time I would save the room and grab a desert near my resort.

As a foodie, if you get the opportunity you should try Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is by far the best restaurant on property. Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge is a close second for me. Both are great with kids!

Hope you enjoy your trip!

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CG was one of the biggest disappointments of our trip.

You arrive in the middle of the restaurant and you are immediately presented with the stunning view. You know you’ve made the right choice!

And then your host turns left and you follow her. “You’ve got one of the best tables,” she lies, as you walk further and further away from the view. And into a separate room right at the end. “This is my favourite section,” she lies again. “It’s so quiet.”

You survey the scene. A side view overlooking the toilet block. Kids screaming and running round unchecked. Maybe not such a great choice.

Eventually a disinterested server arrives. The worst of all the servers we had during our trip. The service is slow. The food is fine, but at those prices it should be more than fine.

Had we not been given the worst table in the restaurant then that might not have coloured my view of the whole sorry evening.

I wouldn’t go back. It’s not worth the risk and there are much better restaurants elsewhere. If you are going I’d make sure you get an undertaking of a decent table. Otherwise what are you paying for?

As for HEA — from the Plaza Garden it’s stunning. From the balcony of the Contemporary … well it’s a long way away. You can’t really make out the projections on the castle. And the fireworks are, well, not the main selling point of HEA.

Yup. Three months later and I’m still bitter about it. But then I thought CRT and BOG were massively disappointing, too.

If you want good food: Tiffin’s, San’aa, HBD, Le Cellier. Heck I’d rather go back to Satu’li Canteen than CG. Or McDonald’s.

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@profmatt, I read your trip report 3 months ago. Obviously you had a bad experience. I’ve been to CG 6 times in the last 8 years, and haven’t once had that experience. But I understand not wanting to take the chance of repeating that experience, especially with the high cost incurred. I’m with you on many other great restaurants to choose from. Great food at Tiffin’s, HBD, Le Celier, but you don’t get the view of CG (with the right table :slight_smile:) If I recall, your food at CG wasn’t great either. Also never my experience.
I encourage you to try Jiko next time you go. It will be your new #1.

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@JonMcIntosh, I think you will love CG. The menu changes so often that I have found I wait until I arrive to see what is offered that night !

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Thanks all for your feedback - both positive and negative - on CG.

I’ve heard great things about Jiko, Tiffins and even Flying Fish… however we’re staying in a Cabin at Ft. Wilderness and CG is a 10 minute boat ride away. We’ll already be pushing it to get the kids settled and one thing I’ve learned about dining at WDW is to eat close to where you’ll already be.

I guess, here’s hoping that our first experience is better than @profmatt’s!


Went last spring with another couple and all agreed we were a “one and done” with Cali Grill. While we all enjoyed the EXPERIENCE, we felt there were better ways to spend our Disney dollars. I enjoyed my meal (ravioli and sushi) as did the others but nobody was overwhelmed and for the price…you should be blown away.

That being said, I still think everyone should experience CG at least once. The view is unbeatable and even though we had a table in the back we didn’t feel like getting up to go outside for fireworks was a hassle, in fact it was a nice intermission before dessert. Service was fine as well.

I would just prefer to go to Jiko, Tiffins or even Sanaa.

Your eating close logic is sound and I’m sure you will have a great experience at CG.

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Thanks for the feedback, @J.ClaytonIII

In the most recent DisUnplugged podcast Peter Werner talked about his most recent dinner at California Grill on 12/4/17, calling it “absolutely out-of-this-world… absolutely phenomenal… the best I’ve had there in a long time.”

Pete mentioned that Cali Grill has a new chef who came over from Jiko and that he brought back the tamarind bbq sauce on the filet and the pumpkin soup.

He closed his comments saying that it feels like there has been a “systemic change in the kitchen.”

We’ll see.

Check out his comments, beginning at 7:21 into the episode here:


I wonder if that is going to mean things at Jiko go downhill now.

I think the last time I was at Jiko it was the 4th head chef since I began going there. I think the only item that has remained unchanged has been the wild boar appetizer (you do not mess with perfection). I am disappointed in the change that happened two chef’s ago to the no sugar added dessert- the new version is good but I loved the old version with white chocolate.

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